Combatants box on with novel approach to modern warfare

Combatants box on with novel approach to modern warfare

An advancing army of cardboard warriors is preparing to do battle tonight, as Enlighten Canberra sees the international Box Wars movement take over the Parliamentary Triangle.

More than 30 people have registered to take part in the bizarre spectacle in which warriors dressed in elaborate handmade costumes styled in recycled cardboard fight to the pulp.

Started in Melbourne more than a decade ago, Box Wars has become an international sensation, with battles raging in countries including Canada, Russia, Britain and the Netherlands.

With some battles attracting more than 500 people, YouTube videos of the events have been seen by thousands around the world. Creator Ross Koger said the war could mirror Canberra's more conventional partisan political battles, with plenty of passion and gusto.


''It definitely has a connection to what goes on a few hundred metres up the hill, and we would love some of the politicians to come and get involved,'' he said.

''We have been thrilled with the response from Canberrans so far. We had 30 people take part in the workshop and are hoping a big crowd will come down to watch the battle.''

The rules of war are strict: cardboard, tape and paint are the only materials permitted. Warriors must fight with honour and avoid hitting any area of the body not covered by armour.

Any warrior who is knocked down can be jumped on safely by opponents, unless they remove themselves from the battlefield. The war is over when all the cardboard armour is destroyed.

Mr Koger said he hoped the battle, likely to last for about 30 minutes, would be the first of many for the ACT.

''We have had a lot of people interested and we think this might be the first step in a Canberra chapter being set up,'' he said.

Participants sometimes spend weeks creating their armour, with cult icons, robots and superheroes popular themes.

''We are getting in on the boat theme and using the battle to draw attention to Canberra's omission from the Sydney to Hobart yacht race,'' Koger said.

''We think Canberra being left out just because it is landlocked is discriminatory, so we've decided to help establish a new boat race of sorts.''

After Canberra's Box War is won and lost, the crew will travel to Adelaide for the WOMAD Festival.

Tonight's free event begins at 7.45 at John Dunmore Lang Place.

Tom McIlroy is a political reporter for the Financial Review in the federal press gallery at Parliament House.

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